As many a country music purist will gladly tell you, country music these days isn’t the country music that they grew up with. Though there is a handful of artists still hoisting the “classic” country music torch high, Peterborough, Ont.’s Kindness Killers is leading this charge on Canadian shores. At the heart of the band is classic country soul but the band takes this a step further, bolstering their sound with cello instead of bass guitar.
Influenced by The Carter Family, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, The Kindness Killers got together in May 2010.
“A lot of the first songs we played came from pickin’ sessions at Washboard Hank’s house here in Peterborough,” Kindness Killers Benj Rowland starts.
With Rowland and band mates Julia Fenn, Nick Ferrio and Charity Justrabo having separately logged miles performing with bands including The Burning Hell, Bear Trees, All Girl Band and the Avenues of Peterborough and Weird Weather, the quartet had much collective experience behind them to utilize for the benefit of the Kindness Killers.
The band’s sound is relatively simple and harkens back to an era of simpler times, especially when compared to the glossy, over-produced instant hits that emerge from America’s country music songwriting factories.Ferrio says that the band has never considered their band instrumentation to be unconventional but says that when compared to music coming from Nashville, it is “abnormal.”
“With the Kindness Killers we were more concerned with a traditional aesthetic, rather than reacting to what other projects may or may not be doing,” Ferrio says. “A lot of the music we are into might be considered simple, but it still retains a lot of complexities like vocals harmonies, intricate performance between instruments and a developed narrative structure and witty lyrical content. Thinking country music is simply ‘simple’ misses the point entirely.”
Band mate Rowland concludes by saying, “Country music is the people’s music. It is like punk rock in that you don’t have to be especially good to play it but it is accessible so it will always be reinvented and renewed.
“Peterborough, the city we are from, was founded on country and western music. There has always been musicians here and elsewhere doing country. Despite the production of new country music, which may or may not be your thing, the songs are still close to the original roots of country music. After all, Hank Williams was only two generations ago.”
Article published in April 15, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript